• JC Serrano

California Train Accident Lawyers

Updated: Apr 26

How to file personal injury claims for railroad accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in a train crash, you can contact an attorney as soon as possible. Before the statute of limitations runs out, the train accident lawyer would need to find all of the liable parties and file a lawsuit against them. If a government-owned railroad is at fault, for example, the injured party will be required to give the railroad special notice of the allegation within a certain period of time, often as little as 30–60 days.

Train accident injuries lawyers in california

Railway travel is provided by companies that are listed as common carriers under the law. Common carriers are obligated by law to ensure that their freight or passengers arrive safely at their destinations, and they are therefore held responsible for injuries to passengers that occur during transportation if the carrier might have avoided the accident by exercising greater caution.

When passengers are injured in a train crash, they will be able to file a lawsuit for negligence against the train operator and railway owner. When a train crash is caused by the owner or operator of the railway's negligence, passengers and their families may be entitled to recover money damages for medical costs, pain and suffering, and lost profits. Although the railroad company is in charge of maintaining the tracks and the train, drivers must also adhere to the laws that regulate railroad crossings.

Subways and freight trains and light railways, trams, and other types of trains are popular modes of transportation. Train accidents aren't as frequent as road accidents, but when they do happen, they can result in serious injuries and deaths.

According to the Federal Railroad Administration, there were 1,835 train crashes in the United States in 2019. A train crash or event on the railroads took the lives of over 900 people.

Human error or other acts of negligence cause several train accidents. If you or someone you love was killed in a train crash, you could employ a personal injury lawyer to help you recover money for your injury or loss.

Related California Laws for Trains and Accidents

  • School buses and some commercial vehicles, including those carrying dangerous, flammable, or explosive materials, are required by California Vehicle Code 22452 to come to a complete stop at least 15 feet to 50 feet from the crossing before crossing. Furthermore, under CVC 15312.1, any contractor who needs a commercial driver to breach railroad crossing laws commits a felony.

  • California Vehicle Code 22521 forbids any vehicle from parking or coming to a stop on a railroad track or within 7 1/2 feet of the nearest rail.

  • Trespassing on or near railroad tracks or propelling a vehicle onto the tracks without the express prior permission of railroad officials is a misdemeanor under California Penal Code 369.

  • California Vehicle Code 22526 prohibits motor vehicles from crossing a railroad unless and until there is enough space on the other side of the tracks for a train to pass safely.

  • Any vehicle must stop at the marked white line before crossing a railroad track, according to California Vehicle Code 22450.

  • Alert signs must be placed on the right side of the lane, a safe distance from a railroad crossing, according to California Vehicle Code 21362.

  • California Vehicle Code 22352 sets the speed limit at 15 miles per hour within 100 feet of a railroad crossing.

Suppose you or a family member is injured in a train crash. In that case, it is important to have your own legal and investigation team working to assess responsibility and protect your and your family's interests.

Train Crash Survivors

Train incidents have the potential to harm whole cities, groups of individuals, or even a single person. Hundreds of people could be injured or killed if a commuter train carries many passengers derails or crashes. People on and off the train can be affected by these incidents.

The following are some examples of train crash victims:

  • railroad staff

  • motorists or riders in cars

  • Bystanders, such as cyclists or other passers-by

  • passengers on the train

Types of Railroad Accidents Leading to Personal Injury

The Federal Railroad Commission keeps records of the various types of train crashes. According to recent statistics, derailments, track crossings, and crashes account for the majority of train incidents in the United States.

Accidents involving trains

When a train leaves its tracks, it is called a derailment. These types of accidents can result from defective tracks, barriers, poorly maintained machinery, too much cargo weight, or other safety standard defects, which can cause significant harm.

Accidents at Railroad Crossings

Vehicles or pedestrians are struck at a railroad crossing in this sort of accident. According to the National Safety Committee, there were 168 deaths in 2017 involving motor vehicles and railroad crossings. In the same year, 86 people were killed at railway crossings.


Any type of train accident can result in a collision. A car could collide with a train at a railroad crossing, or two trains could collide on the tracks. A collision with a high-speed train can be deadly, and any passenger (on or off the train) may be seriously injured or killed.

Train Accidents: What Causes Them?

Whether it's a derailment, a railroad crossing incident, or a crash, train accidents can happen for a number of reasons. Every train accident is different, but there are some trends in what causes the most common railroad accidents.

Operator/Driver's Error

According to the US Department of Transportation, human error is one of the leading causes of train accidents. It's likely that the train operator is inexperienced or that seasoned operators make a mistake that leads to an accident.

The following are some other examples of operator error:

  • exhaustion

  • issues with vision

  • slowed response time

  • being under the influence of narcotics or alcoholic beverages

  • bad decision-making

  • other blunders

Failure of Equipment

Trains are mechanical devices, and mechanical or equipment failure may occur over time or as a result of poor maintenance. Parts may fail and cause the train to malfunction, which is a less common cause of a train accident. A deadly accident may occur if one component fails, such as a rail switch or a rail signal.

Negligence by a car driver or a pedestrian

Many railroad crossing deaths are caused by the incompetence or careless actions of drivers or pedestrians. A pedestrian can approach the tracks too closely or cross at an inopportune time. Before the train crosses, a car, truck, or motorcycle can try to get around it.

A driver's car may also stall in the middle of the tracks, blocking the train's path and resulting in a collision.

Railroad tracks have defects

A train could derail and crash due to faulty tracks. Derailment may occur as a result of mechanical track failure or poor track repair. Obstacles or foreign objects on the tracks may also be a warning of a broken track. Despite the fact that operators are qualified to avoid obstacles, it could be too little, too late.


Although it's possible that this is due to operator error, many recent train accidents have occurred as a result of speeding. When a trail detours or collides with something while driving at high speeds, the effects can be catastrophic and even fatal.

Railroad crossings that aren't secured

At railroad crossings, warning devices such as gates or lights must be mounted. However, frequent railroad accidents occur as a result of poorly marked or covered crossings. An inebriated driver, for example, may ignore insufficient warning signs or cause signals or gates to malfunction.

When It Causes Severe, Disfiguring Injuries

Railroad collisions have been known to cause serious injury and even death to passengers. If you're a passenger, a bystander, or a railroad employee, you could be seriously hurt.

Unlike the general definition of personal injury, catastrophic injuries are specifically debilitating. Because of the severity of their injuries, victims are unable to function, which has a negative impact on all aspects of their life, in addition to having to deal with massive medical bills.

A traumatic accident will change the victim's life and the lives of those around them for the remainder of their lives. It has the ability to cause long-term illnesses and chronic pain, reducing a person's quality of life. Furthermore, when you have lifelong impediments as a result of a serious injury, basic everyday tasks will become difficult.

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Basics of Catastrophic Injury

Each state defines a catastrophic injury differently, but it generally applies to a personal injury that causes one or more of the following:

  • Problems with your health (long-term or lasts a long time)

  • Your life expectancy has declined on average.

  • Permanent physical and emotional disabilities

  • You are unable to return to your pre-injury state or condition in life.

In terms of the extent and severity of the damage, a catastrophic injury varies from a normal personal injury. A traumatic accident is one in which you are permanently affected as a result of the occurrence. If your situation fits into this category, a railroad accidents lawyer will assist you in filing a claim for additional compensation.

A few examples of traumatic injuries are as follows:

  • Harm to internal organs

  • Disfigurement

  • Severe burns

  • Spinal cord injury sometimes leading to full or partial paralysis

  • Amputations

  • Traumatic brain injury

In the event of a train crash, who is responsible?

In a train crash, who was legally responsible for saving the victim from their injury determines liability or fault. Popular carriers, such as commuter trains and railroad companies, receive payment for carrying passengers.

While a common carrier cannot guarantee rider protection, it is kept to high liability requirements to protect its passengers.

Railroads, like airplanes, are required to mount a system that records data that could be useful in determining the cause of a crash. This detail is critical for a personal injury lawyer attempting to establish the operator's or railroad company's negligence.